Tag Archives: Supernatural

HEART-SHAPED BOX – Review

LITERCURIOUS AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

TitleHeart-Shaped Box
Author/NarratorAuthor Joe Hill / Stephen Lang
PublisherShadow Mountain (Sep 8, 2020)
FormatAudiobook
Length11.1 Hours
GenreHorror / Thriller / Suspense
Language:English
ASINB002SQBG70

AUTHOR

To learn about Joe Hill, check out our authors spotlight here.

NARRATOR

Stephen Lang is an American actor, playwright co-artistic director. He received a Tony Award and the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. He is best known for his role in Avatar. He has a long and distinctive film and television career. He has done voice-over work on video games and narrates a wide variety of audiobooks.  

SYNOPSIS

Heart-Shaped Box is a paranormal tiptoe though the life of a 50 something rock-star named Jude Coyne; aka Judas. Judas lives a semi-reclusive existence in Piecliff, New York. At the story’s inception, he has a small retinue consisting of his girlfriend Georgia and his loquacious Californian Personal Assistant, Danny.

Judas has a macabre occult and disturbing collection of objet d’art. At Danny’s suggestion, he decides to purchase another item for his assemblage from a popular online bidding site. It is an unusual item; as it is claimed to be a haunted suit. Unknowingly to Judas, the suit belonged to the stepfather of his dead ex-girlfriend. With the arrival of the artifact; a perfect storm of past and present events conspires together to propel Judas into a living nightmare.

The paranormal antagonist is a literal Swiss Army Knife of the supernatural realm. Craddock McDermott was the stepfather of Florida, who committed suicide after her breakup with Judas. The specter uses his life skills to bring hell into the head, heart and soul of Jude Coyne. In an all out blood vendetta from the grave; only the death of Coyne and his helpers will satisfy the lust for revenge. Judas seems ill equipped to defend himself. No matter how far or how fast he runs from McDermott, he can never escape. McDermott is not only behind him, but also in him; in his mind.

Florida’s decline after her breakup with Judas and the impact of subsequent events pulls at the heartstrings with just the right amount of pathos. I found the telephone call from Florida’s sister to be among the most chilling chapters of the book. Easy banter, quickly replaced with unrestrained vitriol and a promise of rightful revenge to follow.

CONCLUSION

Heart-Shaped Box is another winner from the pen of Joe Hill.

Overtly graphic, unflinchingly morose and disturbingly dark, the characters are perfectly sculpted. “The Devil is in the details,” as they say and this is never truer than when describing Heart-Shaped Box. It is every bit as much of a psychological thriller as a paranormal tale of terror. It is always unpredictable, atmospheric throughout with taut tracts that will haunt you in your dreams.

The narrator Stephen Lang was engaging and performed his role with some élan. He managed to bring a sophistication and an angle to the tale by enhancing the written word and bringing the characters to life.

Listening to Heart-Shaped Box, there is an inevitability and a fatality to the whole thing; a feeling that you are on an out of control roller-coaster in Christmasland. Most perverse of all is; you never want to jump off until the ride is over.

Does Judas manage to prevent the death of those who help or support him? I guess you will have to listen or read for yourself to find out.

The whole package works. Just lay back, listen and let the story take you with the help of a fine up and coming writer and a magnificent narrator. If you love skillfully written tales of horror with a twist why not let Heart-Shaped Box be your next audiobook journey? With Hill’s work, the chills come as standard.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

OTHER AUDIOBOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

PREVIOUS REVIEW OF A WORK BY THIS AUTHOR

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NOS4A2 – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleNOS4A2
AuthorJoe Hill
PublisherWilliam Morrow & Company (October 31, 2013)
FormatPaperback
GenreHorror
Page720
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B00QQ198Z0

“An inscape, a world of thought. In a world made of thought—in an inscape—every idea is a fact. Emotions are as real as gravity. Dreams are as powerful as history. Creative people, like writers, and Henry Rollins, spend a lot of their time hanging out in their thought-world. S-s-strong creatives, though, can use a knife to cut the stitches between the two worlds, can bring them together. Your bike. My tiles. Those are our knives.”

Joe Hill, NOS4A2 (October 31, 2013). Ch. The Librarian, Loc. 1417-1427

AUTHOR

See our Authors Spotlight here.

SYNOPSIS

NOS4A2 is a horror novel written by Joe Hill. It is every horror aficionados dream. The central characters are Vic McQueen, an intuitive wild child with a penchant for two wheels, an infinite curiosity, a need for speed, and a special skill. Charlie Manx a sinister otherworldly psychic vampire. Bing is a sociopath with a dark past and darker future. Margret Leigh is a librarian with unique talents. Louis Carmody is a friend to Vic and father to their child. In addition are McQueen’s dysfunctional extended family.

When the story begins Vic lives with her parents in Haverhill, Massachusetts, not far from Lake Winnipesaukee; a favorite family getaway. 

Victoria McQueen – AKA Vic or The Brat

NOS4A2 is a standout in every way as a horror product. Set in contemporary times. The key character, Vic McQueen, is an 8-year-old child living in Haverhill with her dysfunctional mother and father who are in a combative relationship. Vic is a wild-child with an extraordinary gift. She is an exceptional artist, but that is not her only trait. She soon discovers her other talent, a symbiotic relationship between her and her bicycle; her ‘knife’ (a psychic tool that can act as a portal via the Shorter Way over a psychic bridge to anywhere she wants to go). Together they can traverse the ethereal plane.  

Hill’s novel steers us through the life of Vic from her days as a child, her teenage years and struggles, to her maturation. A life altering event; a clash with Charlie Manx, leads Vic on a personal and dramatic course that defines her life thereafter.

Charles Talent Manx – AKA Charlie Manx

Charles Talent Manx is the principal evil protagonist. He is a filicidal psychopath and mass killer. He has a distinctive overbite, ancient appearance, dresses strangely, and drives a vehicle from another era; a Rolls Royce Wraith. The Wraith is more than just a car, it is part of his Manx-scape, his inner-verse, it is his “knife.” The automobile is implicated in Manx’s unhealthy interest in children. He seemingly spirits them away in his Rolls Royce to his inscape, which he calls Christmasland. In an accident of synchronicity, Vic McQueen and Manx cross paths; from there the game is afoot. 

Bing Partridge

Bing Partridge is a rotund, bespectacled man from Sugarcreek, PA. Bing was tried and convicted of parricide for both of his parents. He is a sexual deviant and fascinated with using sevoflurane (Gingerbread scented gas). Sevoflurane is one of the volatile gases that includes: halothane, isoflurane, and desflurane. Partridge employs the gas as an anesthetic to render his victims insensible. He utilizes a military gas mask, given to him by his father when he was a child, to prevent himself from suffering the analgesic affects.

Bing is Manx’s most recent assistant; there have been many over the years. Bing has a fascination for Christmas, gas masks, and mature adult women; although his interests range too much lower age groups. He is dull, has a complex range of paraphilias and appears to suffer from an insufficiency of intellect with elements of psychopathy, and sociological illness. Cunning like a fox and yet barely able to operate in society, Bing shares Manx’s abnormal love of Christmas and Christmasland. Bing can, and will, do anything to attain Christmasland with its promise of eternal life surrounded by gingerbread and all the accoutrements, including access to children.

Ms. Margret Leigh – AKA Maggie

Ms. Margret Leigh is a scrabble maven with a special bag and a spluttering stammer. Maggie has a sapphic nature and works as a librarian in a small town. She is fascinated with scrabble. Maggie has her own “knife,” involving the use of her scrabble bag. She can retrieve messages that aid her in seeing future events.

Louis Carmody – AKA Lou Carmody

Lou is Vic’s significant other and father to Bruce Wayne McQueen. He is an all-around nice guy, dedicated father, and part-time hero.  

CONCLUSION

Joe Hill could be the best contemporary horror writer of our time. 

NOS4A2 is a strong tale, perfectly paced, and totally engrossing. It has a stupendous narrative, is skillfully written with superior character definition, and has a compelling chronology. It is a mythos all its own and I would not be surprised if it becomes a timeless favorite of many horror story lovers. 

NOS4A2 is replete with numerous literary Easter-eggs. He doffs his hat throughout the book to his illustrious literary family and references locations from their works. A reference to Shawshank is just one example. Notable locations: The House of Sleep, The Shorter Way, Manx The Sleigh House, the Graveyard of What Might Be.

I have seen the television show featuring a screenplay adapted from the book. My recommendation is that you should forget the show and read the book. The written form is far superior and elaborates much more than the TV version. There is simply no comparison between the two experiences. 

I have already identified my next Joe Hill book and decided on his award-winning number one best seller Heart-Shaped Box. What will your next Joe Hill novel be?

Take a look below where I have provided a read-for-free link to four of his works on KindleUnlimited. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Other books by this author are included on his Author’s Spotlight here. There is a range of his works that are currently free-to-read on KindleUnlimited – as of 1 July, 2020. Select the image below to view: